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December 19, 2005

Kinsey Sicks stage irreverent, irresistible holiday spoof

Napa Valley Regester (CA):

Irreverent, irresponsible, irrepressible and, for the most part, irresistible. That about sums up the Kinsey Sicks, a San Francisco based vocal ensemble that bills itself as "America's favorite dragapella beauty shop quartet." Combining a cappella, sarcastic wit and over-the-top drag, the Kinsey Sicks returned to Copia Thursday night for the third "straight" year to deliver their off-the-wall holiday rib-tickler, "Oy Vey in a Manger," to an approving sell-out crowd.

Nothing escapes the satirical gaze of these four entertainers, dolled up in festive gowns and outrageous hair-dos. And there's little to which the lovely Trixie, insolent Rachel, well-meaning Trampolina and frustrated old maid Winnie won't stoop. Their holiday show is a prime example of the off-the-wall parody the ensemble revels in.

The Kinsey Sicks began in 1993 as a group of friends who went to a Bette Midler concert in San Francisco, dressed as the Andrews Sisters. The group's name is a pun on the scale of sexual orientation developed by sociologist Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s. On a 1-to-6 scale of sexuality, Kinsey "6" represented exclusively homosexual behavior. Performing both original material and parodies of popular tunes, The Kinseys have become one of the country's most popular drag acts by combining talent, flamboyance and brains.

Two of the four members, Ben Schatz and Irwin Keller, are civil rights lawyers. In 1988 Schatz played a key role in adding sexual orientation to Chicago's human rights ordinance. He later advised President Bill Clinton's HIV on HIV issues. Schatz sees the Kinseys and their humor as an effective way to expose audiences to important issues. Some of their lyrics "push the envelope," said Schatz, such as their version of "Goin' to the Chapel" with its repeated refrain "but we can't get married."

The group is rounded out by singer-actors Jeff Manabat and Chris Dilley. Dilley has said that their show, "I Wanna Be a Republican," appeals to people of all ages, sexual orientations and political persuasions. "As we travel around the country performing, we find that there are people everywhere with bad taste," said Dilley. "And that's inspiring." "Oy Vey in a Manager" pokes fun at everything, particularly organized religion. The biblical story of Mary and Joseph spending a night in a manger has a much different focus, and includes a trio of property managers -- three Weissmans -- and such new characters as Uncle and Aunty Christ.

As two of the members are Jewish, the ensemble takes liberties here all over the map. "Jews don't celebrate Christmas, just after Christmas sales," advises Winnie. And the group sings a parody of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" with a new lyric, "Jews Better Watch Out!" "Silver Bells" becomes a comment on drugs ("It's Crystal Time in the City"), a slam on office party behavior is featured ("Tis the Season to Drink Stoli!"), there's a tribute to feminist empowerment ("I'm Dreaming of a Vanna White Christmas") and "Have Yourself a Harried Little Christmas" is destined to become a holiday favorite for those who buckle under the pressures of yuletide activity.

Incorporating everything from songs about cannibalism to the spoof of a Latin dance (with a new Jewish sensibility), "Oy Vey in a Manger" is rife with side-splitting humor, bad taste jokes, adult wisecracks and assorted craziness. After all, the Kinsey Sicks are acquired tastelessness -- and damned funny at that. And looking around at the standing throng of cheering Napans the other night, it appears this outrageous foursome has a following in wine country.

Posted by acapnews at December 19, 2005 9:38 PM